April 28, 2017

Discoveries

It is so fun to see the daylight hours stretch out longer and longer.  To feel the sun warm our skin more and more.  To be outside, comfortably, for more hours upon hours each day.
And fun to hear shouts of joy from the kids when they discover things that the snow slowly uncovers.  The other day it was the sandbox, still full of random pots and pans left over from last fall's play season.  These crazy kids played in the box for hours.  Our little sandbox that was originally built for one 16 month old is really becoming too small for three growing kids.  Yet regardless, these three didn't bat an eye at the cramped conditions.  Only joy has been found in old toys refound! 

April 27, 2017

The Season Begins

The end of last week brought our new summer hive of bees.  
Since I am not really in the position to be stung, or even wear the bee coat, Josh has graciously step up to take on this job until the baby arrives.  A pretty big deal since Josh would really rather be anywhere else than surrounded by thousands of bees each time he opens the hive.
And since Josh needed a little help with establishing the hive, the kids and I took on the role of baby-sitters for our neighbor's great-granddaughter.  He helped Josh and we helped him by watching the baby he takes care of.  It was so fun to see how the balance of four kids was for part of a day.  Bottom line, when I brought out the "baby" toys the kids were really more interested in those than the baby herself.  Adding a baby of our own soon should bring an interesting dynamic for sure.

April 26, 2017

School Time Chores Live On

She might be homeschooled but there are just some school chores a student can't avoid.
Cleaning out the chalkboard eraser.  A much loved and hated job for all students, mine included.  At least in our small classroom there is only one chalkboard and one eraser.  


April 25, 2017

Watching Snow Melt

Poor Josh.  This springtime season is so hard on him.  The to do list for the summer is so long and he is as prepared as he can be.  Cut lists for wood, price lists from different stores for the wood, tools set aside and then the waiting begins.  Watching snow melt, never a fun activity when you want the ground to be thawed and ready to work.  Each day finds him outside throwing snow out of piles to melt faster, using an ax to chop frozen dirt and prying railroad ties off of each other where they have been frozen together.
Come July we will be so tired of all the projects but this waiting and anticipating period - so hard on the patience for sure.


April 24, 2017

Easter Egg Hunt - Alaskan Style

I am not sure how I missed posting these pictures last week when I talked about Easter.  But regardless, I don't want to miss out remembering these smiling faces last Sunday.
Three years ago I took the kids to one of the many Easter egg hunts in town and was traumatized by the craziness, pushing, noise, grabbing and dashing that occurred.   The kids were too and we came out of the situation with panicked looks and one egg.  
Since then we decided that conducting our own hunt, in our own yard, for our own kids was the best way to do it.  Slow, calm, fun and full of laughter.  
One jelly bean every few colored eggs, hidden in and amongst the white snow and white birch trees make for a burst of spring time color.
The kids love it, Josh and I love it.  It is a fun tradition, even if Easter sunday is cloudy and 34 degrees.  Childhood memories and experiences - always trying to keep them simple and fun.

April 21, 2017

Right Where You Are

I love that our school room/toy room/guest room is right off the kitchen.  If it were in the basement or upstairs I really do believe it would ever be used.  But being as it is right there, near the hub of all life's business, it is always busy as we are all in and out of it together.  (Love that it is close enough to hear a pot of water boil or the oven beep.)  But really, sometimes that is even too far away.
I snapped this picture the other day when I was working on cooking something that involved hot oil, thus no kids being invited to come join in.  I might be just one wall away from the school room but that wasn't close enough.  Spanish books, puzzles, letter writing, picture drawing, dancing and acrobats all occur in the kitchen when that is where mama is.  I often wish our house was laid out in a manner that I could fit a kitchen table IN the kitchen since even the other side of the raised bar is too far away.  Josh always laughs at this because when he is alone with the kids he says he often has to go looking for them.  They scatter.  But how blessed, and honestly tired, I am that where I am - there too will be the kids.  Thus I need to find more outdoor projects to do as I wait for the snow to melt because it is too nice this week for these kids to be in!!  Garden days are coming.


April 20, 2017

Safety First

When it comes to spring in Alaska, break-up and melting, we each approach the change of weather in a slightly different way.
This girl ventured out to puddle jump with her safety goggles on.  I guess it is good since we never know just how far that mud will fly!

April 19, 2017

For The Baby

Each week that goes by is one that is closer to our time of meeting our new little man.  We are all so excited.  There are so many things that really need to be done.  Several of those projects are in the laundry room.  I found myself in there the other day determined to clean it up so that I could sew the bibs, fix the elastic on cloth diapers and fix a bumper pad that really need to be accomplished.  Yet instead I found myself pausing when I found my big spool of rope, uncovering my machine of all necessary mending and pulling out some of this and that variegated thread just asking to be used up.  
What a peaceful project it was to sew a few little baskets to sit on Zachary's changing table.  A place for his hairbrush, onesies, diaper pin or lotion.  A little something just for him.  Oh I still have the other projects to do but now the days are getting sunny and it is getting oh so hard to make myself go into my dark laundry room to accomplish them.  Maybe one of these evenings I will feel inspired.  But for now Zachary does have one thing to his name, even if no changing table is even assigned to him yet.  There is still time, excited as we might be, plenty of time. 

April 18, 2017

Something New

I saw a picture awhile back of a fun Easter idea and decided to go for it.
Josh took Ethan with him to our church's men's breakfast on Saturday so it was a perfect time to do something special with "just the girls".  
We spent our time making an "empty tomb" cake.  Using just things we had on hand (thus the yellow and green jelly beans.  We at least picked out all pink, purple and blue ones).
It was a fun thing to do and gave us time to talk about how we get to celebrate an empty tomb on Easter.
Our civil war play mobile soldiers might not look like Roman centurions but regardless the story doesn't change.  What a wonderful promise it is to us all.  The tomb is empty and Jesus conquered death.



April 17, 2017

Easter 2017

 What a wonderful day we had.  So much to rejoice in and celebrate.  God's promise fulfilled, the promise of life reborn and the reminder of a God who loves.
Best day of the year by far!

April 14, 2017

Colors Of Easter

This has been a fun year for Easter for us.  Abigail, and mostly Ethan, are really starting to "get" the importance of this holiday.  I love when we can move beyond jelly beans and baskets to purpose and understanding.  Not that the candy and baskets aren't super fun to enjoy as well but grasping the gift of Life and salvation - amazing.
 Miss Naomi of course keeps us grounded and helps us to remember that even though the big kids get it, most holidays are still "new" each year to her.  When I mentioned this week we were going to dye eggs Abigail and Ethan cheered.  Naomi answered, "why?"
 And so we were able to take her on the journey of just why we dye eggs.  How we cook them first, how we prepare the dye and how the colors of spring come out on each pretty egg shell.
 One thing about dying eggs with kids, they don't absorb the color fast enough!  So yeah for coloring the eggs first.  I mostly helped Naomi with her name, flowers, faces and more.  Ethan was intent on only using a white crayon so it would appear like magic and Abigail set out to create a different story on each egg.
All in all it was a wonderful time and I have to admit, an activity I love to enjoy on the deck.  At almost 3 I hope that Naomi is able to tuck this memory into her mind so that next year she can join in the anticipation of all this Easter season brings.  Jesus is risen, He is risen indeed.

April 13, 2017

Lunch Time

Cooking with Abigail, apart from her creating desserts, can be a slight challenge since all she really longs for are the sweets.  But in weeks past she has made a dinner of beans and rice by herself and lunch for herself and her siblings. 
 When I tell her that on such a such day she is going to be the cook, what would she like to make, she often wants to go complicated.  It is good for me, and her, to realize some meals can be good and easy and at 6 that is really where we should be at anyway.
I love these lessons.  How to use a knife, read a cookbook, prepare a meal in plenty of time before everyone is starving, and feeling proud of what is placed on the table.  What a good little student I have.  

April 12, 2017

Girls' Weekend 2017

Heather and I met while we were both attending UAF.  I married an Alaskan man and built a house in Fairbanks.  She married an Army man who moved her away.  In the 6 1/2 years we have not lived in the same town we have done everything we can to connect.  While she lived in Washington, I would make multi-city plan tickets and visit on my way to or from Fairbanks and Austin, Texas.  But then her husband switched to the Coast Guard from Army life and they moved to North Carolina and try as we might, we couldn't get together.  Last year they moved to Kodiak, Alaska (an island in the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska).  She arrived in February and we had our first girls' weekend in March.  The kids and I ventured down to Kodiak last July.  But since then I have become pregnant with my number 4 and she has HAD her number 4.  It was time to get together once again.
Last Friday I drove to Anchorage and she, and her precious baby Abigail who just turned 4 months old, flew from Kodiak to Anchorage.  We met and had three wonderful days together.  We got outside, we shopped, we relaxed, we wandered, we talked and talked and talked and ate great food.  How thankful we are to our husbands who gave us this time and for God who has kept our friendship strong and healthy through all these years.  We might live far away from each other but we do live in the same state, for now.  It is something we are both excited about and won't take for granted ever.  How fun it was for us to both have one little baby to attend to and open days of uninterrupted conversations.  Girls' weekend, what a blessing indeed!


April 11, 2017

Love

How thankful I am for many things in life; Josh being at the top of the list.  I am just getting back into the swing of things today after stepping away all weekend to have a girls weekend in Anchorage with my best friend from Kodiak, AK.  
This man took care of the kids, house, life and chores while I rested, talked and rejuvenated.  What a blessing to be so supported and loved.

April 10, 2017

2016 Harvest When The Time Is Right

Last summer was busy, as they all seem to be.  Camping, chickens, playgrounds, sunshine, travel, gardening, harvesting and more.  Summer in Alaska is a precious and short time.  Thus when the raspberries were picked there really wasn't too much time for jam during that busy season.  
 But the other day I opened the last of the older jars of jam and I knew there would be a need for a new batch soon.  
 That and a new season of picking, harvesting, and summer sun will be upon us before we know it and this year we get to add a new baby to the mix.
So the other day I defrosted last year's raspberry pickings and mixed up a double batch of jam for us to enjoy.
Jam days in the off season are good for a lot of reasons.  A little taste of summer when the world outside is still white is pretty fun indeed.  Spreading the work out does helps with the busy summer days.  A spring time pantry is full of empty jars.  It is certainly fun to see fresh and clean jars full and ready to use.  Plus a spring cleaning of our freezer for all 2017 has in-store makes this jam day a good day here!


April 7, 2017

Year One Is A Wrap

This happened yesterday!!
Wow, our first year of homeschool is done.  When I mention that to people they say "DONE?".  The bottom line is we learn at home so learning never ends but the getting up in the morning to "get school accomplished" is done.  For now.  Ending mid-April was intentional when we started the first of August.  We weren't pregnant then but we knew we hoped to be.  We also knew that once spring arrived school inside would be much harder to accomplish.  That being said, it snowed last night.  But how excited we are to turn in our last quarterly report, take the days in a relaxed manner and take our days outside more and more.  

Homeschooling had great days and hard days and how happy we are that we took this route.  For this child and this year, it was just what worked for our family.  How blessed we are to live in such a homeschool supporting community.
Listening to Abigail read yesterday, watching her do her math and asking her Spanish vocabulary all made me stop and marvel at how much can be accomplished in 8 months.  How grown up she has become; on so many levels.  Kindergarten is over, 1st grade here she comes.



April 6, 2017

These Two

We see a lot of combinations of play throughout the days.  "Just the girls" with Abigail and Naomi, all three in on the same plan or just Ethan and Abigail off doing something complex.
But these two, their play has become something special.  While Abigail does school or if she needs to be alone in her "more grown up" thoughts and activities.  Ethan and Naomi get into such situations together.  As sweet as these faces are I often wonder just whom is the instigator for whom with all the trouble they can make.
But even if it is trouble they come across, they certainly have fun doing it together.

April 5, 2017

Enjoying The End Of Winter

With the arrival of some warmer temperatures comes the real fun of winter.
 The warmer snow mean the kids can make a snowball and thus a snowman for the first time this winter.
 And ice skating can take place in the sunshine without a coat or hat if one wishes.
Yes, it does look like winter is coming to a close here!  We are super excited about spring but while we wait for the complete breakup (aka mud) season to begin we will be enjoying the fun parts of winter.  Snow and ice without the cold!

April 4, 2017

Sled

Josh inherited an older dog mushing sled from his dad years ago.  And for years Josh has piled the kids in and pulled them around the yard.  Last year the kids fit all three across.  This year they fit two across with one standing on the back.  But soon that fit will be a little too tight.  This week Josh's design brain took over and the sled was modified.
With a little scrap wood from here and scrap wood from there, he converted the regular sled more into a bobsled.  On the first test run Ethan and Naomi sat in back and Abigail sat in front.  The side by side situation is still a little tight but the kids all love it.  Next winter there can be one on the back and then one in each seat.  Riding the snow machine around with dad, the most favorite activity of all.

April 3, 2017

April Arrives

Over the weekend something wonderful arrived to Alaska.  A drop of warmth.  The rise above freezing temperatures is a first for us since October and it is so very welcomed!
The first puddle jumping at its finest!
And a little girl who is super excited that she can examine the rocks in our gravel road once again.  Her words, "Oh mama, I have missed seeing all these pretty and wonderful rocks all winter long."  Yeah, that pretty much makes a geologist heart sing!